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Iran: Video Of Smiling Man With Beheaded Wife Shines Light On "Honor Killings"

The beheading of a 17-year-old in southern Iran by her husband, who then paraded her head through the streets and on social media, has prompted Iranians to accuse the clerical regime of encouraging such acts through systematic misogyny.

File photo of women walking in Ahvaz, Iran, where the killing took place

File photo in Ahvaz, Iran, where the killing took place

Kayhan London

Horrific footage has been circulating this week online of a smiling man displaying the severed head of his 17-year-old wife in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz, beheaded for supposed "disobedience" after she'd tried to flee to Turkey.


The victim was reportedly murdered on Feb. 5 in what the local prosecutors have termed an "honor killing", allegedly perpetrated by the woman's husband and his brother. Police apprehended both men the same day.

Abbas Hosseini-Puya, chief prosecutor of the Ahvaz district, said the the victim's father had first brought his daughter back to Iran from Turkey where she had reportedly fled. When the husband realized she was in Ahvaz, he tracked her down and carried out the gruesome murder, before parading her decapitated head in his neighborhood as someone recorded on a telephone.

Shocking public opinion

Hosseini-Puya said authorities would seek out those who had recorded images "shocking to public opinion." In addition to the murder itself, he said, "beheading this woman in public is itself a crime."

The website Rokna, which posted the video, faces possible penalties for an "attack on public morale." A Rokna editor tweeted in response that blocking such images "will not end honor killings." The website, he added, simply posted what others had already seen on social media.

The victim, named as Mona Heidari, was reportedly married off at the age of 12, though her father told Fars news agency that there was no forced marriage. The couple had a three-year-old son.

Cropped screenshot of the video showing the man smiling as he parades his wife's head through the streets of Ahvaz

Website blocked


The incident has indeed shocked Iranians. Many social media users wrote they would neither watch nor post the pictures. Others have accused the Islamic Republic's laws of favoring male authority at home. Hashtags used on Twitter included "Taliban", "Talibanism", "Anti-female Laws", "Right to Life" or "Child Brides".

Iran's current government has made no secret of its commitment to would-be family values. President Ebrahim Raisi has said that courts in Iran should not fast-track even consensual divorces, and that in general, divorce should not be made easy. Indeed, such crimes are often perpetrated by men in a bid to prevent a looming divorce.

Laws on women's rights

Mona Heidari has thus joined the list of other recent female victims of male ire including Rumina Ashrafi, 14, Mobina Suri, 16, Somayyeh Fathi, 18 and Fatemeh Borhi, 19. The perpetrators are typically punished with a few years in jail or a fine.

Iranians lashed out online, accusing the regime of being ultimately responsible for such crimes, because of its permissiveness toward male violence and the misogyny it foments.

The timing is also a cruel coincidence: close to the 43rd anniversary of the 1979 revolution on Friday. As one of the first acts of the revolution's leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the state abolished the Law to Protect the Family and all other laws protecting women's rights.

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Society

Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

Photo of a father with a son on his shoulders

Father and son in the streets of Madrid, Spain

Ignacio Pereyra*

-Essay-

When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

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